Monday, July 6, 2015

Mount Lorette- Wednesday, June 24th , 2015

Looking down at the car

Running Tent Ridge was a great warm-up for the next day- Climbing Mount Lorette in Kananskis country! This is one of the most prominent peaks on your right hand side as soon as you drive into Kananaskis country. It is most recognizable for it’s long, razor sharp ridgeline leading directly to the summit. 

We left Canmore at 8am for the 45 minute drive to the closest parking spot possible- on the side of the road, across from the mountain, but on the wrong side of the Kananaskis river. But we were ready! With swim trunks on (do they call them swim trunks?), we waded across the thigh deep, glacier fed river. It was a great way to wake up before the real climbing started! 

From the North side of the river we bushwhacked a while until coming out, and crossing the powerline road, then continuing up the 'easiest' path- straight up. Here a trail starts to appear, although it is quite apparent where you go- stay on the ridge! 

Alex looking out on K-country
 Alex was working on his short roping skills, which was great for me to practise being on the other end as well. A bit like being taken for a walk, except on a narrow ridge, thousands of feet in the air. It was lovely. There are a few spots on the climb where you are climbing in quite exposed spots, so having a rope is highly recommended, although I have heard of many soloing this, which I wouldn't recommend it, but I also like to live :)

The crux is a spot where you stand on a narrow piece of rock and have to fall forward across a gab (or notch) to then climb up and over the wall in front. It is a fun, little freaky spot, which is very easy, but with quite the drop off below, I was happy to have a rope attached to me at that point. From the crux, it is a relaxed stroll to the summit, with one more bit of scrambly climbing. During the whole climb, you have an amazing view of Kananaskis country and Nakiska ski resort, and from the summit there is a great view looking West which encompasses Canmore and the whole Bow Valley. 

The descent was interesting. We headed down from the summit on a loose trail, that contours just under the North Ridge. We then headed down the scree slope on lookers right of Mount Lorette. It was a bit slabby, so not the best scree ride, and then there is a bit of hands on scrambling as you are above a slick little waterfall/cliff area. Once past there, it is once again a bit of a slog down through yet another creek destroyed by the floods. Lot's of trees down and boulders to clamber over. There may be a way to stay high in the trees on the right, but we felt the safest bet was to stick to the creek. At the bottom of the creek, we once again hit the powerline road, and after a short bushwhack, a change back into our swim trunks, and a cooling battle across the river, we made it back to the car! 

5 1/2 hours and we were excited to get back to town for a cold one after such a fun, albeit hot, scramble up mount Lorette! Thanks Alex for towing me up there! 

Much love and adventuring,


p.s. I'll post a few more pictures once I get them!

The Middle Sister- Canmore, AB- June 25th, 2015

 My last mountain of the week was this biatch- I’m sorry, but it is true! She is such a tease. Sitting there, looking down on the Bow Valley, so gorgeous and so close- but man-oh-man, so far away! This girl nearly killed me, from the beginning until the end.

We left my house in Canmore at 9am and drove, with our bikes in the back, to Stuart Creek golf course construction site (Take a left, or the third exit, at the round about- Don’t drive to the golf course). We parked right beside the first set of just-being-built houses (only because we saw two other people unloading bikes from their car).

Our route- including the lovely bike ride.
 I had found a good description of how to get to the trailhead now that all this construction was going on, and lo and behold, this lovely couple had the same one printed out. Awesome- we were definitely going to find it…maybe not. We set off on the powerline road heading East towards Lac-des-arcs, searching for an old grass road. After about 20 minutes of back and forward biking, we realized we had missed it, and turned around once more to bump into the same couple, who were also on the hunt. We finally found the bike trail ‘Quebexican’ and headed up that- it was much closer to our cars than we thought. This is where we discovered the construction workers had cut down over 20 trees over the trail we were supposed to be taking. We decided to continue riding Quebexican, in hopes of finding another way but after another 20 minutes going the wrong way, and once again nearly winding up in Dead mans flats, we turned around and once again bumped into our new, although a bit frustrated, friends. They continued on to Dead Mans flats, to then take the dirt road back to the car, and we headed back on the bike trail, feeling a bit defeated. We suddenly came across a faint, hidden trail heading left, so we decided we had nothing to lose, and took it. Well, waddya know- We found the dirt road with the chain across it, which lead us right up to the small dam, and the trail head. PHEW! That was a great 1 ½ hour warm up. 

If anyone is planning on heading up the Third sister, I suggest just bike right through the construction on the main dirt road to get to the trailhead. It is the easiest way, and the construction workers waved nicely from their large trucks. 

I would recommend heading straight through here to get to the trailhead.
It is after turning left at the roundabout. 

 After that adventure, we were pretty skeptical if we were going to make it up this cheeky sister or not. First, it was over 30 degrees out and we were hot! Second, we needed to be back in town for 5pm, and it was currently 11:30. 3rd, The approach up the creek bed was awful! EUGH- never again! I am so sorry, but the clambering over the rocks and trees, and when it wasn’t that, it was so boring. I couldn’t believe it, and both myself and adventure buddy, Dustin, were feeling pretty negative.

The creek- EUGH!
After just over an hour, we popped out of the river and climbed up a beautiful grassy knoll with some big boulders on top, surrounded by some gorgeous peaks, and sat, absolutely exhausted, for a couple minutes. We had to decide what to do. We had time to try for the summit, so we got up and pushed on up the scree slope and onto a nice little trail that traverses right along the back of the bowl between the little and middle sister. I think our saving grace was passing a man and his daughter on the way up and having a wee chat. We told him we had run into another couple who had turned around because they were so frustrated in the creek bed. His reply was  “Oh, why?”. It was such a simple response, but it brought Dustin and I back down to realize he was outside just enjoying the day- no need to be frustrated or angry, just relax.
The little Sister

And so we did. We ran the last portion of the trail to the summit where we felt absolutely exhilarated for just having made it. We had been so negative after out search for the trailhead, and then we had accomplished our goal. What a thrill! It took us 2 hours 45mins up, and 2 hours down, ensuring us enough time for a cheeky ice cream in Canmore- perfect!

I have never understood why people are grumpy in the outdoors- It is such an incredible place! Buuuut I was pretty frustrated after our search for the trail and then that horrendous creek, which actually was not that bad coming down. I definitely learned my lesson though from that cheerful man on our way up- Just be happy to be outside, getting out into our gorgeous world, and being able to experience it and all its's beauty!   

Have fun and smile!

Yahoo! We did it!

Tent Ridge, Kananaskis- June 23rd, 2015

On Tuesday, June 22nd, Monsieur Simon Donato and I went for a wee saunter up Tent ridge. We left Canmore at 7:30 am and headed out up onto the Smith-Dorian to the Spray Valley to find the trailhead. After about 30 mins driving on the gravel road, we turned right at Mount Engadine Lodge, and just after the switchbacks up the Mount Shark road, we parked in the biggest pullout on the right. It is in perfect proximity to the trailhead as well as where the trail comes out at the end. We decided to do the loop anti-clockwise, taking the upper trail, which is visible from the pullout if you just look up the road towards mount Shark.
Gerty soaking in the view

Gerty and Simon running along the ridge
Simon started off at a mean pace running and my legs, and I think the trusty canine Gerty, questioned what we were getting ourselves into. The trail was great, but steepens up very quickly after about ten minutes. Through the bushes the trail meanders up an old road and then opens up under the steep face of Tent ridge. Here there are a few braided trails, but we followed the most prominent, winding up very steeply. As we made our way up towards the ridgeline and over the last bit of remaining snow, Gerty decided to do her thang and chase squirrels further down. No problem- a chance for a break and to take in the gorgeous view.
From the ridge, it was easy travelling until just below the main rocky summit. The trail meandered lookers right of the ridge and up the backside of the summit. Once again, the views!!! You get a full 360 of the Spray valley, including a nice view of Assiniboine.

From the summit, we made our way down the ridge and up to the satellite station, and then down the paralleling ridge. It became a bit more scrambly from here, so we spent some time helping Gerty along (I wouldn’t recommend bringing a dog unless they are good on loose rocks and mountainous terrain! It was a tough go for her, plus there is no water until back into the valley bottom). On the descent, it seems there are a few options to take the scree slopes to the left, but the ridge has a trail all the way to the bottom, which is what we followed. It was great, and we were all excited for the snow slide at the bottom.
Spray valley
From here the trail winds down into the valley and along the stream. There was water there for Gerty, as well as quite a bit of debris in the stream from avalanches in the winter. Down we went into the forest and along a very enjoyable trail heading back to the road. There were a lot of trees down, but nothing totally hindering or impassable. It was a fun and precarious run jumping over everything!

My many amazing poses
In the end, with all the Gerty carrying and helping, we completed the 780m elevation gain/9km loop in 2 hr. 30 mins. I think it could be possible to complete it in 1 hr. 45 mins, and I’ve heard of a Dr. Andy Reed having completed it in 90minutes. We were discussing which way is best for running it, with Simon deciding clockwise would be better as it is a nicer run up that direction through the forest, and the scramble up would be easier going, with a much nicer descent. Who knows….maybe we need to run it again to find out!!

All in all, it is now one of my favorite day hikes in Kananaskis. The view is amazing right after entering alpine terrain, and it is a fun scramble, surrounded by some astounding peaks!

Much love and adventuring,


Monday, May 25, 2015

Oh, life! You're incredible!


 6 months! seems like a lot has happened since I posted that last update on life decisions. decisions....2 words that I am sure has haunted, and will haunt, many of us for the rest of our lives. It is almost a sentence in itself. If someone says "Life decisions..." then gives you 'the look', everyone has the same reaction..."ah, decisions" followed by a knitted brow and pursed lip grimace.

After posting my last entry about dreading 'life decisions' I wandered off across America to Quebec, then onwards to Nicaragua. Why not? It was lovely. Nicaragua is an absolutely stunning country. I could write a blog on every new place I went. It is started by flying into Managua and then onto Grenada, where we stayed at the most incredible, and highly recommended, Miss Margrits ( After discovering $1 breakfasts of Gaillo Pinto and experiencing a Hipika (as well as getting to know the local drink of choice, Flor de Cana) we moved onto Ometepe, an island made up of 2 volcanoes. Gorgeous! We also, after never having driven motorcycles before, rented one for the day and, with many near death experiences often involving canines, we toured the island- I highly recommend visiting Ometepe! From Ometepe we travelled to the party town of San Juan Del Sur with a focus of just buying surf boards and then getting out of there- it is a dangerous place, and apart from the giant Jesus looking over the bay, quite disappointing in the sense that it is run by Americans, drugs and alcohol. But we found our boards so onto Popoyo we went!
learning to drive a moto!
San Juan Del Sur

Popoyo! I loved Popoyo. As my surfing ability is...minimal (meaning I would paddle out and pretty much lie on my board sunbathing in constant fear of being pummelled by a wave or eaten alive) I was able to enjoy the beach running and multiple barbecues our hostel insisted on having every night, consisting of full disco lights, ear drum shattering beats and often fireworks lit from the hanging cigarette of the hostel owners mouth. After almost 2 weeks in Popoyo, we said goodbye to the chickens that pretty much lived in our room, and chicken bussed it to Lyon....a long trip where my ipod and cell phone were stolen, but I was rewarded by witnessing just how many people you can actually shove onto a regular yellow school bus. Too many, is the answer...way too many.

Lyon was great, but after 2 days we got ourselves out of there and made it to the Boom! Dramatic right? After a 45 minute mosquito infested trek to the beach, and an impossible wave to surf, we figured maybe actually the Boom was not for us. Luckily, we were picked up on the side of a gravel road by a hilariously high Californian who lead us to what I think of as 'Paradise'. A beautiful house on a private beach at a very good price ( with fresh water and a man who would bring around fresh coconut bread in the mornings. $3 nine pound fish, and $1 Tunas, a gelato place, pizza place and a great surf instructor...we were in heaven. In addition to the newly bought motorcycle, we felt we had found our place in life! If anyone is heading to Nicaragua, I recommend Jiquillo.
San Juan Del Sur

After careful consideration, I decided to come home for Christmas, but not before a quick flight over to the East of Nicaragua to visit the Corn Islands....Amazing! Water so blue, a near death boat ride across to the little island, no roads or cars, and amazing snorkeling. It was a great end to my Nicaraguan adventure.

Turtle Beach
I arrived home at 1 am on New Years Eve and surprised my family for Christmas. It had been 10 years since we had all been together and it was such a treat for us all. I was also able to jump back in a get a job ski patroling at Lake Louise ski field. It was perfect.

This winter I was lucky to get in a couple great ski tours, including: the Wapta Traverse, Mount Crowfoot, and Mount Athabasca. It was lovely. I was also able to complete my goal of the season and do a backflip on skis. That is probably my proudest moment! I will write another post full of this winters adventures!

Hope everyone is getting out and getting rad every once in a while!!! Miss you all!

Much love,


Christmas dinner!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Life Decisions

Hello all you wonderful humans out there!

I am sorry for the lack of updated blogs and replies to questions about the future....decisions: they are not easy. 

I started biathlon when I was 13 years old and it has been my life ever since.

Being awarded the Duke of Edinburgh from 
 I started out racing civilian and cadet biathlon at the same time. I had so many great opportunities with Cadets, and was lucky to be awarded the Duke of Edinburgh award from Sophie, the Countess of Wessex.

Switching from the Canadian team to race for New Zealand seven years ago was an easy decision at the time, and one which I will never regret, but at times I do look back and wonder what my life would be like if I had not made that decision so quickly. Would I have continued even doing biathlon? Perhaps that is just how life is; looking back on life and wondering how things could have been, or would have been different?  
Nobody knows what would have happened if I had stayed racing for Canada, but I know what happened when I switched, under the strong persuasion and encouragement of New Zealand, and it has turned me into the person I am today.
New Zealand

Team NZ!

The opportunities and experiences I have had racing on the World Cup circuit under the New Zealand flag have been mind-blowing. Even now some of these experiences are turning into distant memories, until I see an old photo or just suddenly the memory pops into my head, and it all comes back so clearly. I feel so fortunate to have been to: over 30 World Cup races; five different World Championships; one Olympic Games (Whistler) (and qualified for a 2nd (Sochi)); raced in Greenland in the Arctic Circle Race; and the American Berkie, as well as obtaining a diploma in Adventure Tourism Management from Queenstown Resort College. I’ve lived in New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland and Italy, and traveled the world from Siberia to South Korea, and I feel oh so lucky for it as well J
My first year racing- No coach but lots of smiles :) 

I cannot mention enough about the amazing people I have been fortunate to meet. The other athletes and team staff who were so kind to welcome-in an orphaned athlete to the biathlon family. I cannot stress enough how amazing the Eastern European countries are. Many Western countries do not have the opportunity to get to know them as there is a language barrier, but also a large misconception of what they are like as a people. I can say I would not have been able to race 6 years if it wasn't for the generosity of Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Poland and other countries from that region. If they had space in their car, they would help, if they didn't, they would try to make some. They would always invite you in for a tea or a drink and give you the best seat and offer food and anything to make you welcome. The Ukraine team let me travel with them for two years, even though we had no way of communicating except by sign language. I feel so lucky to have been given the chance to get to know some of these teams.
Ladies gossiping before WCH training

Of course, I needed a little English every now and then, and that's when the British team saved me. They are now life long friends, and the fun and happiness they brought to the World Cup circuit made my seasons. Uiloq and Oystein Slettemark from the Greenland team invited me to their home in Norway and were my confidants from my very first season.

Some examples of the support I received from various other national teams are: the American team inviting me to eat with them when we were in the same hotel and the random skis we had together; the Swiss team opened their homes and gave me the opportunity to live and train with them in Switzerland, and the Italian team waxed my skis and let me drive with them for European Championships. I guess I cannot point out what every team did for me, but I will say every team has helped me out in some way. The only way I can say ‘thank you’ is to let everyone know how much I appreciate them, and their generosity, through this blog. 

Richard and I having a time at World Championships in Czech
The list of coaches I have had over the years is quite astonishing. Again, realizing hindsight is truly 20-20, if I had had more consistent coaching and training plans over the years, I would have had very different results. But again, I would not have had the experiences I have had. A list of coaches in semi-chronological order: Tom Davidson and Scott Ward, Joanne Thompson, Dave Bradley, Amy Ford, Matthias Ahrens, Tom Zidek, Roddy Ward, John Jaques, Janez Vodicar, My Ukraine Papa, Val Burke, Vegard Bitnes, Federico Fontana, Anders Brolund, and the rocks in my career who supported me throughout this crazyness; Peter Zidek, Richard Boruta, and my mother and father. I apologize now if I have inadvertently left someone out.

Of course, there are others to recognize. The International Biathlon Union and Biathlon New Zealand made it all possible, as well as the amazing sponsors I have had over the years. Without their generosity, I would not have been able to do what I have done. The sponsors, even though I was nowhere near the top, supported me in many different ways; gear, funding, and moral support. I wish I could have repaid them somehow with amazing results and an abundance of gold medals, but I hope the good karma of having supported a small-nation athlete will reward them in other ways! 
And last, but not least, I must pay tribute to all of my friends, family and other supporters throughout the Bow valley and around the world. Support by way of financial and moral encouragement made it possible to race on the international circuit. If it wasn’t for this and sponsor support, I would never had made it to the 2010 Olympics, nor qualified for Sochi. I was also overwhelmed by the various fan clubs that recognized my efforts. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

I have decided, at the minimum, to take this year off from racing and to see where I am in a year’s time. The decision I have made is due to many different reasons: not being selected for Sochi; lack of support from the country I represent; no teammates to train with; and a personal feeling of wanting to do more, at this time, with my life. I feel I have advanced as far in competitive biathlon as I can, given the present

circumstances. I think I am ready to see what else is out there, and to start working towards my professional life as a…who knows what yet! I am still not sure what I want to do, which is exciting but a bit frightening. This is why, on Thursday, I am flying to Nicaragua for 2 months to see what life will throw at me. 

Thank you again, everyone, for your love and support.

At this time I will keep the blog just in case I end up doing something ridiculously awesome and I feel the urge to inform the world :)

Much love,


NORMA ammunition